Volkswagen Originalteil - Gastro Obscura
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Volkswagen Originalteil

The German auto maker’s “part no. 199 398 500 A” is a pack of sausages.

Wurst news ever: Volkswagen sells more sausages than Beetles, and in 2015 and 2017, it sold more sausages than cars overall. (This should come as no surprise, since sausages have both a lower overhead cost and a lower purchase price than the average car.) But the remarkable popularity of the Volkswagen Originalteil (German for “original part”) has landed the auto maker a space in the tubular meats hall of fame.

In 1973, the company started making the currywurst sausages, known as “item no. 199 398 500 A” in the Volkswagen factory, at the company headquarters in Wolfsburg. Meant as a breakfast or lunch item in the company’s cafeteria, the sausages were served whole or chopped up and tossed with Volkswagen’s own factory-made curry-flavored ketchup. These days, 30 kitchen staffers, most of them trained butchers, are put solely on weiner duty, making 18,000 sausages every day. The pork is sourced from local farms, and the recipe, which includes curry powder, pepper, and ginger, is a company secret. The sausages come in two lengths, and are dried, smoked over beechwood, and then steamed at 350°F for 100 minutes. The finished product is shipped in packs of five to VW dealerships all over the country, who then gift it to customers after a successful sale.

In 2017, Volkswagen sold nearly 7 million sausages, more than the number of VW-brand cars sold worldwide that year. While the iconic Beetle flits in and out of existence (VW has stopped or threatened to stop production several times in the bug’s life), the Originalteil, which the company recognizes as its “most popular non-vehicle part,” curries on.

Need to Know

A stop at the cafeteria during a VW factory visit also offers the chance to enjoy this non-automotive part. You can book a tour via email: While you do need to go to Germany to taste a VW sausage, there’s no need to purchase a car for some currybockwurst. The sausages are also sold in some German grocery stores as well as online.

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